How to Welcome Your New Hire

Welcome to The Zebra! © 2021 John Apostol
Welcome to The Zebra! © 2021 John Apostol

There's a non-trivial amount of preparation you made when hiring for your team. You had to anticipate the need, make the requisition, screen candidates, interview the best ones, and finally make the offers.

There's a moment of triumph you feel after a candidate signs. Recline, spin in your chair, you're done.

But you're not. You're forgetting something. You have the biggest opportunity you will ever have to set them up for success.

Employee experience begins with the application, continues through the interview, and then kicks up after accepting the position. Your new hire is excited and likely anxious about what comes next.

You have a captive audience. Welcome them properly. The goal here is to ensure they land on their feet and know what's expected of them.

I like to do this by answering some common questions that run through a new hire's mind.

How do I set up at your company?

I'm glad to work with a great company onboarding team that takes care of all the prerequisites. My new hires are set up with their essentials. It's a straightforward, turn-key process for me.

That said, it's still important to remember that onboarding at the company is top of mind for your hire.

Remember, they've made a big life decision to work with you. All of the basic questions around compensation, PTO, acceptable work hours, equipment, and relevant access must be answered first. Make it as easy as possible to work for your company, before considering how they will work for you.

I tell it straight.

"Make sure you have your direct deposit information, HR forms, and all the other pieces solid before worrying about your first project."

I give them space to figure all those things out. People want to 'hit the ground running' and give you a good impression, but that's unnecessary pressure on top of all the changes being reckoned with.

If you effectively are the people team, then do take care of this stuff first. Make this your only priority. Your new hire can't effectively deliver on the team's goals if they're unsure when they'll get their first paycheck or how to log into their new email account.

Get them what they need.

How will I work with my manager?

You new hire is a stranger. They have an impression of you, but they don't know what it's like to work with you. Give them a headstart and save trouble for the both of you.

I like to do this by sending a personal welcome email after they sign. In that email, I express my satisfaction in them coming aboard, make it clear to prioritize getting set up. Crucially, I take it a step further by sharing a one-page guide on working with me.

I'm honestly proud of what I wrote there and seeing my latest hire's reaction prompted me to write this post in the first place. Feel free to reference it for your own.

I encourage every manager to think about what makes them tick. Think about what success means to you and how your reports can be successful working with you. If you're a lock, this is the key. Write it down and give it to your people. They will love the cheatsheet. It serves to clear anxieties and level set on your expectations.

You don't need to have it on a website, but I do recommend you have it digitally so you can share it as needed and refer back to it when you need to ground yourself. Spend real effort on this. It will pay off down the line.

What's expected of me?

If you've given your new employee your one-pager, you're already partway to answering this one.

While every new hire should be able to receive your one page guide, most new hires require a personalized 30/60/90 plan.

For clarity, a 30/60/90 plan lays out expectations for your employee to meet within 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. These are the milestone steps that they will center on to ensure success.

Here is where you can lay out the projects ahead of them and what deliverables would be required. I find it's best to keep the 30/60/90 light and digestible. There should be room for interpretation, both yours and theirs, such that success is defined but the details aren't precious.

Here's a plan very similar to one I've given in the past.

1## 30 days
2- Read & learn
3- Ask questions. Get answers.
4- Get some useful code into production
6## 60 days
7- Find your groove
8- Overcome some challenges
9- Start contributing to our roadmap initiatives
11## 90 days
12- Focus on roadmap initiatives
13- Improve our team
14- **Own** your code

My example here is purposely vague for when I was hiring a generalist engineer. I've given much more specific ones as well. You should tailor the 30/60/90 plan to guide their expectations on what you're looking for.

Make it accurate and hold them to it.

How do I work with my teammates?

If you want your new hire to transition well, they need to understand all the relevant personalities they will work with. Thankfully, you don't need to spend much effort here. This should be delegated to your team.

I like to do this by scheduling 1:1 meetings between my new hire and each person on the team. I space them out at least 1 day apart and account for 45 minutes on the calendar. Why 45? Not conforming to a 30 minute or 1 hour meeting gives some fluidity and ambiguity, which is perfect for meeting someone new.

In the event description I write something like the following:

Please meet <teammate>! She is our team's Quality Engineer, working to make sure that we ship appropriately functional products. <teammate> joined us back in <year of hire> and has a great knowledge of our team's services and how they interact with other services.

I also provide a proposed agenda, which they could honestly do without. I think it gives some touchstones and guideposts for them if they need it.

Make sure both of them can manage the meeting in case they need to reschedule or add a video conference link.

Lastly, remove yourself from the equation by declining and removing yourself from the guest list. It's not about you.

This isn't all-encompassing but I hope it was helpful for anyone wanting to give their new hire the best experience and all the tools they need to be successful. Remember, their success is your success.

If you found this useful and are looking for a great opportunity managing amazing humans at a company with an unmatched culture, please consider browsing The Zebra's careers page.